If you ask most people, a pharmacist’s job is dispensing prescriptions. While that is part of their job, it is just the tip of the iceberg. It is an incredibly diverse profession. Therefore, the daily responsibilities could vary depending on the setting. In this article, we’ll look at how pharmacists contribute to the healthcare sector.
Dispensing medication is one of the primary responsibilities of pharmacists. That is why institutions like the University of Findlay teach these principles in their PharmD online program. This program also teaches other skills such as the application of pharmacy practice experience. This course is incredibly flexible, allowing you to pursue your dreams without neglecting other aspects of your life.
Pharmacists ensure that patients get the right medication in the right doses. Therefore, they start by reviewing the prescriptions issued by the physician. For instance, if there is an error in the prescription, they will point it out, preventing adverse effects on the patient. They also use their knowledge to verify that the medication is safe for the patient, ensuring that the prescribed drugs work well with other drugs the patient might be on. They also have to check whether the patient has any known allergies.
As they dispense the medication, they ensure it has all the necessary information, such as warnings and dosage instructions. It is at this point that pharmacists also educate patients about their medication. What side effects should they expect? What should they do if they miss doses? What’s the best way to take the drugs? This information goes a long way in empowering patients and enhancing medication adherence.
Collaborating with healthcare professionals
Care coordination is a hot topic in the healthcare industry right now. This patient-centric model of care requires all professionals involved in a particular patient’s care to share information for more effective outcomes. That also applies to pharmacists. They constantly communicate with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers to discuss treatment plans and patient progress. They also inform these healthcare providers about the most effective drug therapies for particular conditions based on factors like a patient’s medical history and allergies. Additionally, pharmacists are a vital part of care transitions. For instance, when a patient comes in from a different facility, the pharmacist steps in to ensure that the medication list is accurate to reduce the risk of errors.
According to the FDA, drug compounding refers to the process of combining, mixing, or altering ingredients to formulate a medication customized for an individual patient. That might be necessary when a patient cannot be treated with an FDA-approved medication. For instance, a child might require a certain dosage that is not commercially available. In that case, the pharmacist can prepare compounded medication to make it more convenient for the child. Another common situation where compounding might be necessary is if the patient has allergies or sensitivities to certain additives. A pharmacist uses their knowledge to compound medications without those particular allergens. It is worth noting that compounding is not limited to human medicine. Animals, too, may have special needs. Therefore, pharmacists can compound drugs for these animals too.
However, a pharmacist needs specialized training to compound medication. They also need special equipment and facilities to ensure precision and safety. Pharmacists have to adhere to strict guidelines and quality standards in the interest of patient safety and compliance.
Managing medical inventory
Pharmacists play a vital role in guaranteeing that the pharmacy is running efficiently. That’s a multifaceted role that begins at procurement. They play an active role in ordering medications and medical supplies from pharmaceutical companies. Once these products are delivered, pharmacists monitor the inventory levels. Usually, they use software to automate inventory management, although manual tracking might sometimes be necessary. Inventory control is important to prevent shortages or overstocking. A pharmacist must also ensure that the pharmacy is not stocking expired products. If there are any, pharmacists ensure that they are disposed of properly to avoid harming patients. Additionally, pharmacists are on the front line of quality assurance. They carefully inspect pharmaceutical products to ensure quality and authenticity.
Addressing public health issues
We started by mentioning that pharmacy is a broad profession. In some cases, pharmacists actively participate in public health initiatives. Pharmacists can administer vaccines in many regions and often participate in vaccination campaigns. They also help curb the issue of poor medication adherence, which is a common public health concern. As they explain how to take the medication, they can address various concerns that patients might have, thus breaking barriers to adherence.
Another way pharmacists address public health issues is by taking part in emergency response efforts. They step in to support other healthcare providers in delivering essential care to victims.
Ensuring legal and ethical compliance
The healthcare sector is held together by strict legal and ethical guidelines, and pharmacists must ensure that they are adhered to. That means they have to be conversant with these laws to enforce them. These laws typically revolve around issues like patient privacy, prescription validity, and controlled substance management. For instance, a pharmacist must keep patient information private and secure. They can uphold this rule by password-protecting devices with this information and avoiding leaving anything unattended. Similarly, a pharmacist has to uphold ethical considerations like autonomy and justice.
Choosing the right setting
The pharmacist’s role is constantly evolving, and now more than ever you can choose from a wide range of settings to work in. Common settings include hospital pharmacy, clinic pharmacy, and industry pharmacy. It is important to understand what each setting offers so that you can select the correct choice. That depends on factors like preferences, career goals, and desired pay. For instance, if you are passionate about older adults, you can choose to work in assisted living pharmacy. Similarly, if independence is high on your priorities list, mail-order pharmacy might be the perfect choice. It is also important to consider growth opportunities. For instance, working in a clinic setting provides room for growth into a management position. Whichever path you choose, you can always grow your skills by enrolling in relevant courses and attending workshops.